Two weeks into the season, and the majority of the teams in the conference have a couple of games under their belts. Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State and Washington are the teams that have played a single, solitary game. Two weeks makes up about 17 percent of a team’s schedule, so you start to get an idea of a team’s identity at this point in the season. It may not have crystallized all the way, but some things are there that can be drawn on and looked at in more detail.
What did we learn about some Pac-12 schools in week two?
Stanford is still going to be physical on both sides of the ball. Starting a week late did nothing to hurt the Cardinal, who looked a lot more focused in this year’s season opener against San Jose State than they did last season. The Cardinal imposed their will on both sides of the ball in grinding out a 34-13 win on The Farm. Stanford’s defense only gave up 251 total yards, including 35 yards rushing, to the Spartans. The Cardinal also did not punt the ball all game and turned it over one time. The defense looked stout and the new players on offense played well in their first game.
Oregon looks just as fast as ever. Yes, the first game against Nicholls State had to be taken with a grain of salt. The beat down that they laid on Virginia last week 59-10 on the road last week was absolutely merciless. Again, not to fire up the hyperbole machine, but it might be safe to say that there are only two teams capable of beating Oregon: Stanford and, well, Oregon. 11 penalties for 119 yards is not a good sign, and if there is a continued lack of discipline and bad penalties, it could cost them at some point.
USC is in a heap of trouble. Obviously the sanctions from the Reggie Bush scandal are hitting USC in the offensive backfield at the quarterback position right now. Lane Kiffin has been reluctant to name a starting quarterback this season, instead choosing to start Cody Kessler in the first half and have Max Wittek come in at the start of the second half. Right now, neither one is playing well. It is hard to say exactly what the offensive philosophy for the Trojans is right now. In the 10-7 loss against Washington State, USC didn’t even seem like it wanted to throw the ball down the field, with Kiffin opting to call bubble screens and other lateral passes instead of trying to utilize stud wide receiver Marqise Lee.
It was a less than inspiring game plan, and unless Kiffin comes to the conclusion that he needs to pick a quarterback and instill that young man with the confidence needed to make plays, this season will wind up being a lost one. USC has a very good defense, but if they have to spend too much time on the field, the lack of depth across the program as a whole will wear them down eventually.
Arizona probably didn’t learn that much more about themselves in week two, taking out hapless and helpless UNLV on the road. They did get another week to get into a rhythm, and had an incredible first half on the road against the Rebels. The non-conference schedule us decidedly weak, as UTSA doesn’t exactly pose an imposing threat either. The Wildcats will then have a week off before they play at Washington.